Wirth Watching: Philo T. Farnsworth, the father of television

- SALT LAKE CITY (Good 4 Utah) - On August 19th of 1906, Philo T. Farnsworth was born in Beaver, Utah. 21 years later he would invent TV.

Without him, nothing would be Wirth Watching.

Ahh yes, it was the future.

When you look at the early days, few whiz bang inventions were as swell as television, for it brought unbelievable programs to your house right through the air.

And it was a Utahn who made this all possible.

We note the anniversary of Philo T. Farnsworth’s birth took place last week.

The former BYU student’s drawings remain a treasure of science and ingenuity.

They are housed in box after box at the University of Utah Marriott Library.

He took his experiments to a San Francisco laboratory, his main partner in the experimentation was his wife.

“He said ‘I have to tell you, there is another woman in my life,’” said Pem Farnsworth. “Before I could faint, he said ‘and her name is television and the only way we will have as much time together as I like is if you work with me. How about it?’”

Farnsworth started working morning noon and night, and eventually added an assistant from Utah.

“I was offered a job by mail,” said Carl Christensen. “I never saw him, I accepted it as it sounded interesting and an increase in salary over what I was making.”

And he tried over and over, mostly with disappointing results.

“The professors at BYU, UC Berkley, and Stanford all told him the idea of television was just impossible. Leave it go,” said Pem Farnsworth. “Phil knew he could do it. He just didn’t pay attention. From then on, nothing was impossible.”

Farnsworth was stubborn. He was driven. There must be a way to transmit an image through the air.

And on September 7th, 1927, Mr. And Mrs. Farnsworth and Carl Christensen succeeded.

Haunting images followed a first test of a simple line.

“We had a very simple picture of a black and white line,” explained Christensen. “The reporters were so impressed that this farm-grown boy had created electronic television when all those companies with all the money in the world couldn’t do it.”

More and more images appeared, each a piece of magic.

And like any good magic show, Farnsworth took it on the road.

He had invented TV.

But everyone, the former naysayers, got into the act.

Big businesses did their own traveling show: RCA had the miracle of science and General Electric built TV demos for the World’s Fair.

Farnsworth would spend much of his fairly short life fighting for his rights as the inventor of TV, much of it fighting RCA, but the courts would finally agree Philo T. Farnsworth was the father of TV.

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